Quitting your job nicely

So you're ready to leave your job. But how do you move on without burning bridges? It's an important skill. Here's how it's done. 


There are many reasons why you might resign or leave from a job – maybe you got a better offer, maybe you’re moving interstate, or maybe it’s a less positive reason. Whatever the case, there are some things to keep in mind – things you should do when quitting a job, and things that are definite no-nos. HR Business Partner Cath Frazer shares her list.

Make sure you want to quit

While quitting on the spot may feel like a great idea on a bad day, it’s not always the wisest decision. “It might be worth having a conversation with your manager about what’s happening, or even a personal reflection about whether this is still the right place for you,” Cath suggests.

Speak to your manager first and inform them

The workplace grapevine is a tricky and insidious thing, and has a way of broadcasting the most sensitive of information and spreading it like wildfire. So when you’re resigning, discuss it with your boss first. You don’t want the rest of the workplace knowing before they do!

Put it in writing

But don’t include swear words. “Preferably do it in an email or on paper – because I have seen someone write ‘I resign’ on a piece of toilet paper,” says Cath. “That sends a message, and you don’t want to burn your bridges. Because no matter how bad you think the situation is, the grass is not necessarily greener on the other side, and you may have to come back.”

Return all company property and ask for references

“Speak to key people about being a referee in the future,” Cath advises. “Ask them face-to-face to provide a recommendation for you on LinkedIn.” Not only will you leave on good terms, but you’ll also be armed with positive referrals that will certainly help in future jobs.

Don’t switch off once you’ve resigned, and don’t chuck sickies

It’s easy, once you’ve resigned, to mentally leave the building before your last day. “It’s important, whatever leave period you have to work through, try and stay motivated and engaged, and contribute until the end,” says Cath. “Because if you switch off, that impacts the business. And don’t submit a leave request.”

Don’t badmouth the business

“I’ve heard people talk about how amazing their new job, and sledging the company they’re leaving,” says Cath, and that’s never a good idea. Because that kind of talk will be remembered, and will dog your professional footsteps for quite some time after you’ve left. You know what they say about karma…

Make an effort to do an exit interview

“It’s important, constructively, for the business so they can also learn, and develop and grow,” says Cath. And it also gives you a satisfying sense of closure, and won’t leave you with a bitter taste in your mouth.

Don’t contact ex-colleagues once you’ve left and ask them for stuff

Once you’ve left the building, make sure you have everything you’re legitimately allowed to take with you, because you can’t contact your ex-colleagues and ask for that contact list or even that favourite pen you left in your old drawer. “It puts them in an awkward and compromising position,” Cath explains, “and that’s not a good way to be remembered either.”

In short, when you do leave a job, keep it classy, keep it real, and do it in style. Have you got any other tips of what and what not to do when leaving a job? Or any horror stories of your own to share?

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